How many talented women dropped out of the blogosphere rather than deal with hateful Internet feedback?
Online threats against women are the subject of a lengthy Pacific Standard article by Amanda Hess, who argues that gendered harassment has severe implications for women’s status on the Internet and their place in the digital era.
"Threats of rape, death, and stalking can overpower our emotional bandwidth, take up our time, and cost us money through legal fees, online protection services, and missed wages," she writes. "I’ve spent countless hours ... logging the online activity of one particularly committed cyberstalker ... And as the Internet becomes increasingly central to the human experience, the ability of women to live and work freely online will be shaped, and too often limited, by the technology companies that host these threats, the constellation of local and federal law enforcement officers who investigate them, and the popular commentators who dismiss them—all arenas that remain dominated by men, many of whom have little personal understanding of what women face online every day."
This subject deserves more attention–and I'd like to focus here on a small part of it. For years, I've been convinced that gendered nastiness and harassment was one factor responsible for the emergence of a blogosphere so disproportionately inhabited by men. And it's the biggest factor that changed my mind about how heavy-handed bloggers and editors ought to be about moderating comments sections.
By Conor Friedersdorf